TGIF: It’s Financial Literacy Month!

November 1, 2013
financial literacy month in canada

Do you know what today is? It’s the first day of Financial Literacy Month here in Canada!


Wait, you’re not doing a happy dance right now!? That’s just me? Well, maybe my excitement will rub off on some of you.

In the finance world, there’s a lot of jargon and even more math. For that reason, as well as the fact that basic financial concepts aren’t really taught in school and that we live in a consumerist society, it’s no surprise the average consumer debt load carried by Canadians is more than $27,000 ($38,000 if you’re in B.C.). It’s also not surprising, but unfortunate, that only 36% of Ontarians achieved a passing grade on their ability to apply basic financial concepts in 2012. The goal of Financial Literacy Month is to shed some light on the level of financial literacy across the country, and inspire people to get educated and make a change.

The simple definition of being financially literate is when you have the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. Growing up, my parents pushed their knowledge on me… but I didn’t have the skills, and I definitely didn’t have the confidence to make the right decisions. I followed by the examples of my peers, hung out with friends who encouraged me to spend and made some really, really poor financial choices! I may be debt-free today, but now I’m in a whole new world where I’m learning how to save, how much to save and why it’s so important to do so.

Because I’m still learning so much myself, you’ll find that most of my posts this month are dedicated to Financial Literacy Month in some way. I already have a few posts scheduled, including one about the lessons I wish I’d been taught in school, as well as things 28-year-old me would tell 20-year-old me. And I’m also going to write a post or two about some of those big, crazy dreams I have about getting personal finance a bigger spot in B.C.’s Education IRPs, and touring the country to talk to high school and college students about debt and the importance of budgeting. (I told you, I have crazy dreams!)

I’d also love to share some of the great research that different schools and organizations have done around financial literacy in Canada, especially as it pertains to youth. Are you doing something cool for Financial Literacy Month? Or do you know of an organization, a business or an individual who is? Send me an email! I want to hear about it.

The low of my week was… nothing. No complaints here.

The high of my week was being interviewed with Bridget by Gail Vaz-Oxlade for today’s episode of The Current on CBC Radio. Despite some of the not-so-great financial decisions Bridget and I once made, the interview was full of laughter. You can listen to it here.

A blog post I loved was Understanding Your Money Beliefs, written by my friend Kayla over on the ReadyForZero blog. Do you ever think about how the messages you received about money as a child helped form your thoughts about it as an adult? She did, and it’s worth the read.

The best money I spent was… I don’t know, $3.50 for a hot chocolate after a long walk in the rain!? I barely spent any money this week! Let’s say the $330 I put away for retirement then, shall we?

My plans this weekend include having a friend (who is only a friend because she’s a longtime reader turned pen pal – gotta love the Internet) and her husband from Portland crash with me tonight, and then packing my bags and heading home to Victoria for 3 whole weeks. (More on that next week!)

How was your week? What are you up to this weekend?

  • Alicia November 1, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Aww, I missed the Current…. stupid East Coast time zone and reading this blog 45 minutes late. I’ll catch it later when they post it. Also, I think Financial Literacy Month is so important. I wonder if it was around 10 years ago when I was in high school and had to learn how to make a budget… or if that was just a coincidence.

    My weekend will mostly be work unfortunately. I have two big presentations/meetings next week that I desperately need to prep for. But I’ll try to fit in some downtime.

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:49 am

      You can also go to the CBC’s website and change your city to wherever it’s currently 9am… that’s what I did, so I could listen early, hehe. But yes, I’m sure it’ll be posted online later!

      I’m not sure when FLM was officially started in Canada, but it started in 2000 in the United States.

      And I hear you on working this weekend. I won’t need to do much, but I’m off Mon-Tues and want to get a few things done beforehand. Do try to find some downtime though!

  • Debt BLAG November 1, 2013 at 6:43 am

    I’ve been doing a happy dance since midnight. Gosh, some people out there are just so bad with financial literacy that I’m glad we’re doing everything we can to have a month.

    Congrats on the great week :)

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Haha, why don’t I believe you?

  • Rob November 1, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Hi Cait. Listened to you guys on The Current this morning. Very entertaining and informative to the listeners. You all sounded great! I note that your strategy is “cost cutting” while Bridget’s is “earning more”. Mine has always been a combination of both strategies, even when I did still have “some debt” (prior to becoming totally debt free after our mortgage got finally paid off some years ago).

    Like you I track expenses, keeping within budget, seeking ways to save extra by looking for deals, spending less than full price whenever possible. That said, I also look for investments that earn top dollar, passive investing earning high income wherever possible, making every investment dollar work hard for me.

    So far my week’s been going well, although we had quite a windy Halloween night, with tree branches and leaves all over the place here this morning. So this weekend is shaping up to be a “cleanup” weekend!

    Have a great weekend, radio star! :-)

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Morning, Rob! Yes, I actually loved that mine and Bridget’s answers were different; it gave listeners a chance to see how there are two roads to take, which I think in turn gave better answers to each question. I’m hoping to get to the point you’re at now, with being able to choose the right investments, and I’d also like to earn some passive income somewhere along the lines too. One day!

      Good luck cleaning up the mess. I love fall, but that always seems to be part of it, doesn’t it? I’m sure I’ll be raking leaves at my parents’ house later this month…

  • Claire November 1, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Ohhh, I love catching up with your questions! The “Best money I spent question” is such a great way to think about your spending. Plus yum, hot chocolate.

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Haha, yep! It was goooood. ;)

  • FI Pilgrim November 1, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I equate financial literacy with counting calories. It’s not always fun, but in my experience it always causes action!

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Love the comparison!

  • Ben @ The Wealth Gospel November 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

    I’m looking forward to this month’s posts! Apparently our Financial Literacy Month down here is April, but obviously it’s not celebrated too much because I had even heard of it until I just looked it up

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 7:58 am

      I can’t say it’s celebrated “too much” here either, but there are certainly organizations and people who try to spread the word!

  • psychsarah November 1, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Heard you this morning-it was a great interview! The whole hour with Gail was awesome in my opinion , but I am kinda a Gail groupie :). It was cool to hear your voice too. Sounds like you had a good week and great weekend plans-enjoy!

    • Cait November 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

      It was a really good show! Amber’s story broke my heart, because you can feel how stressed she is… but she also seems determined to get herself out of the situation she’s in.

      Anyway, it was a great week. Have a good weekend, Sarah!

  • Angela November 1, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I loved it, heard it today, now I am going to follow your blog

    • Cait November 2, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Happy you’re here, Angela!

  • Dayle November 2, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Hiya! Happy Saturday :) 
    Do you turn your clocks back an hour tonight in BC? If so, enjoy the extra hour of sleep. I wasn’t sure because I know some parts of Canada don’t do this.
    My week was good! I’ve managed to make it to the gym the past 7 days in a row  I need to make some new fitness goals for November but I’m not really sure where to go from here. A hiatus on junk food would be a grand idea, this I know! Lol … I’m meeting with a trainer at my gym this morning who will hopefully help me. This weekend for me is pretty relaxed … went to the women’s show yesterday, gym last night, gym this morning then groceries and laundry (fun!) … tomorrow I’m doing the gym in the morning, playing baseball in the afternoon, and going to my parents for dinner. Hope you had a nice time with your friends from Portland!

    • Cait November 2, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Yep, we turn our clocks back! Who doesn’t? Maybe one of those prairies. :P

      And giiirl, you are so active! I love that you’re still doing so much, even in November. I have no doubt you’ll accomplish whatever goals you set out for this month.

  • dojo November 2, 2013 at 5:46 am

    We do need to know more about money and care more about how we spend it. A lot of our societies are deep in debt and problems, just because we don’t have the knowledge or interest in knowing more.

    • Cait November 2, 2013 at 7:30 am

      I think *some* knowledge is out there, but a lack of interest (and/or a little bit of denial) seems fairly common.

  • Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies November 2, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I loved your interview with Gail! I had no idea what you sounded like and it was great to find out, your Canadian accent is so cute! :P Have a fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to read the posts that you have scheduled for this month.

    • Cait November 2, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Haha, now I want to hear your accent! Thanks, Eva :)

  • Kayla November 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Thank you so much for including my post Cait! So glad to have a new friend in the blogosphere (and real life!). :)

    • Cait November 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      You’re welcome! It was a great post – had to share.

  • Natalie November 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    1. I was about to get angry at the fact that Canada is so far ahead of the US when it comes to addressing this crucial topic by holding Financial Literacy month… then I googled it and realized that we do! But it’s in April… weird. I guess I’ll be posting on the topic in April then… Anywho…
    2. Congrats on the interview!!!!! What a dream come true :)

    • Cait November 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Yea! It’s too bad we don’t celebrate during the same month, but I’ll look forward to some good content in April. And thanks!